Chipotle, a chain recently subject to allegations of sexual harassment and drug use by a former executive, has taken to Twitter to draw attention to those very subjects: sex and drugs. In a recent Twitter poll, the chain asked followers: “How many burritos?” along with two options that sound like they were proposed by a 15-year-old boy: 69 (an obvious reference to a sex position) and 420 (often used as a shorthand for smoking pot).
The tweet went live Tuesday evening, and it’s inspired some mixed reactions from the chain’s followers.
How many burritos?— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) September 6, 2016
Business Insider called it “a desperate attempt to win back millennials,” one of the core groups of customers that Chipotle lost in the wake of the Great E. Coli Scandal of 2015.
The brand has attempted to lure customers back in a number of ways, including a loyalty program, a new menu item, and a marketing campaign. Social media is, of course, a big part of that campaign, but this latest tweet is unusual in that the two things it references — sex and drugs — probably shouldn’t be top-of-mind for Chipotle.
Restaurant consultant Aaron Allen says that chain brands should “absolutely not” tweet references to such controversial subjects. Especially not Chipotle, which is mired in “sexual harassment lawsuits and had a top executive put in prison for cocaine use.”
As Allen notes, Chipotle was recently slapped with allegations of sexual harassment at some of its stores, with a Los Angeles worker claiming she and other female employees were sexually harassed by four managers at the restaurant.
As for the 420 reference, drugs are another subject Chipotle could probably stand to distance itself from. In July, chief creative and development officer Mark Crumpacker (who was leading the company’s rebuilding efforts) was indicted on cocaine charges.
Social media has long been important to Chipotle, which currently touts 802,000 Twitter followers (competitor Qdoba has about 42,500). But the @ChipotleTweets account generally posts updates that tend to fall somewhere between hip millennial and awkward dad joke. Some of the brand’s tweets might even require Urban Dictionary — at least, if you don’t happen to be a young, hip, youth who eats burrito bowls on the daily.
Case in point, this DMX reference:
Y’all gonna make me use my fork, up in here, up in here.— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) August 25, 2016
Or this reference to a “side piece:”
The side piece he tells you not to worry about. pic.twitter.com/fhV3Eh0ev6— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) August 17, 2016
Look, Chipotle can poke fun at itself, too! It’s a “cool” brand:
Are Millennials Eating Too Many Burritos?— Chipotle (@ChipotleTweets) August 15, 2016
The “69 or 420” tweet went above and beyond the others in its blatancy, though. As for whether or not it’s resonated with millennials? Eh, not exactly, though some seem to appreciate the attempt at humor.
Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold says the brand “always looks to engage with customers on social in a way that is fun and without taking ourselves too seriously. The nature of these tweets is not really a departure at all from what we’ve done for months, or even years.” Arnold adds that the company’s social team is part of its corporate marketing team, “something that may distinguish us from a number of other companies.”
• Chipotle Tweets About Sex and Marijuana in Desperate Attempt to Win Back Millennials [Business Insider]
• All Chipotle Coverage [E]